Doctor of Philosophy (General)

Programme Description

The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) General at the University of Mpumalanga is to provide students with training for an academic career through the medium of an independent and original primary research project completed under supervision. Whilst undertaking the research project, students will gain first-hand experience of all aspects of the research process. On completion of the PhD, students will be able to undertake further independent research and contribute to the generation of new knowledge. This PhD focuses in the broad subject areas of Biology general, Botany/ Plant Biology, Zoology/ Animal Biology, Pharmacology/ Toxicology, Ecology, Evolution, Systematic and Population Biology, Geography, Cartography, Geology and Earth Sciences/ Geosciences

After completion, graduates should be able to:

  • Undertake independent research and report on this to reflect independent thinking, originality, critical analysis, and advanced insight into the chosen field of research. This is an umbrella ELO and some components of the research process are restated in other the ELOs that follow.
  • Demonstrate specialist knowledge and an ability to engage critically with current research in a specialised field of the biological, geographical, or geological sciences.
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the boundaries, inter-connections, value and knowledge creation systems and paradigms of the chosen field of either the biological, geographical or geological sciences, and an ability to critically evaluate these, and select an appropriate paradigm for the research project.
  • Select, apply and modify where necessary research methods including experimental design, data collection, data analysis and statistics to address a particular research question in the biological, geographical, or geological sciences.
  • Use a wide range of appropriate knowledge and skills to identify a problem, conceptualize a research question, design, and undertake a research project to address the problem.
  • Within the system being studied, and based on the outcomes of the research, draw appropriate conclusions and propose interventions at a policy or management level that would address the problem being researched, and fully discuss any possible negative consequences.
  • Identify any ethical (human and animal) considerations associated with research in the chosen field of specialisation and propose solutions and or mitigating measures.
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility to the environment and health and welfare of others (humans and animals) and with due consideration to cultural differences.
  • Manage, collate, critically evaluate, and synthesise information from a range of sources as relevant to the field of specialisation in the biological, geographical or geological sciences.
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently with both professional and lay audiences using appropriate language, academic discourse, and technology. Defend new ideas using logical argumentation that is supported by data.
  • Have responsible and effective personal organization skills, work independently (taking full responsibility for allocated resources) and incorporate feedback into one’s work.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) General is a minimum of two-years (Fulltime) and three years (Part-time) qualification with a total credit of 360. Candidates/students are expected to publish at least one article based on the thesis research to graduate.

Admission Minimum Requirements

The minimum admission requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) General are:
•          a relevant NQF level 9 Master's degree such as an MSc in a fields including geography, geology, biology including animal and plant biology,                           ecology, evolution, systematics and population biology.
•          at least 60% mark in the Master’s degree

Module Structure for the programme

Module name Module code Year No Credits
PhD Research
Project and
1 360
PhD Research
Project and
PHD90C 2 360